Hey telcos: in the shadows of DataGate, boring is the new cool

telcos are cool
Image credit: Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock.com

Telcos have spent the last few years trying to become cool. In many cases, they have been pretty successful. Once the ‘OMG OMG’ reaction to the rise of the OTT players had settled, they started partnering. And suddenly Spotify, Sports or Star Wars games were available as part of a bundle you could pick up on the High Street.

Some tried rebranding, some tried new branding, some set up entirely new companies – although this was more to solve the ‘legacy’ problem that encompassed everything from systems to processes, from regulation to ethics. Generally, this ‘transformation’ to a ‘digital’ player is going pretty well, albeit slowly as these things do.

Ethics? Yes, about that …

We’ve told this anecdote before, but it’s worth repeating – some time ago at a seminar, a speaker presented the idea that using customers’ data could offer them better services. For example, a customer about to exceed his data cap could be offered a flat $5.00 fee to continue using his favorite app that the telco happens to know the customer uses a lot (Facebook, say) until the next billing cycle starts.

Pause for laughter and applause.

Not so much. The audience of telcos sat in silence, until one of them said they could not do that. Why not? Because they would be using their customers’ data without their express permission and their Ethics Committee would ban it under the heading of ‘spooky marketing’.

The journey home from the seminar was a pretty gloomy affair and one fraught with images of crumbling, ancient telcos, while Facebook, Spotify, YouTube and others danced among the ashes.

Until DataGate.

Now there is a real virtue in being boring, reliable, trustworthy, ethical, responsible and all those uncool things.

Finding ways, post-DataGate, of combining the boring with the new brand, the new processes and the new cool will be a differentiator indeed.

Arise telcos of the world – it is time to be great again.

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